Lately, John my helper and I have been clearing my garden of debris….the usual fall clean-up and leaf raking in preparation for the county trucks which have begun the rounds of collecting neighborhood “yard waste” the county will compost for use in public parks and gardens next year. Many of my younger neighbors will purchase the county compost by the truckload, but I make my own.
We don’t clear the entire garden. Because some birds prefer their seeds in the natural state, for many years I have left several plants intact through the winter although their leaves and stems may be brown and withered. Birds will feed on the seed pods until spring. John is a horticulturalist, and he has much ‘book-learning’ to complement my many decades of observation and experience, so we know what to leave and what to remove from the garden.
A few years ago before the killing frosts of late fall, I took the photos below of an American Goldfinch eating the seeds of Echinacea* plants (Camera: Canon Elf). In winter this colorful male will lose his brighter yellow feathers and becoming a dull version of his former self until spring. But, he will be here all winter and so will the Echinacea pods.
*Echinacea Purperea, the purple coneflower is a native plant, originally found in the American grasslands. Called coneflower because it’s seed pods are shaped like cones. The Echineacea in the photos is a variant, ‘White Swan.’
A hungry Goldfinch
I am linking this post to Michelle’s Nature Notes. (Link left in blog roll.)